BY TIM JOHNSTON, VSTWP EXTENSION OFFICER, 2018
Graham and Elaine Johns of Maude, 33 kilometres north-west of Geelong, have a long history of managing serrated tussock. After joining the Maude & District Landcare Group in the late 1990s, they had great success controlling the spread of serrated tussock on their property via cultivation, cropping, pasture renovation and broad-acre spraying.
Graham began working in the area in the 1960s, and in 1998 he and Elaine purchased an 80 hectare property for prime lamb production. At this stage the property was riddled with weeds including serrated tussock, box-thorn and gorse. However, after many years of dedication to the control of these weeds, the property is now very clean and is a testament to their commitment.
Graham recalls that initially serrated tussock was as prolific as “hair on a cats back”, especially on the difficult to access areas on the steeper slopes. A multi-pronged attack was required for the property. Management was staggered over 3 to 4 years and involved a range of control measures, including slashing, cultivation, spraying with glyphosate and cropping where possible. On the lower lying creek flats, an initial cultivation was followed by cropping for 2 years, then into pasture.
Photo 1: The large river-flat infestation treated and cultivated in the year 2000.
Elaine acknowledges that “the use of a helicopter for spraying was one of the best things we did”. The helicopter spraying was coordinated with their neighbours to help reduce costs and assist with a more coordinated serrated tussock control program.
In the Spring of 2017, as part of the VSTWP ‘Maude Extension Program’, Extension Officer Tim Johnston met with the Johns to discuss their serrated tussock management program. Occasional serrated tussock plants do still appear, due likely to blown in seed, but they are quickly eradicated with a hoe or spot-sprayed with glyphosate.
The Johns are recognised within the community as a valuable resource for weed control and other land management advice. Much of this stems from experience gained from Landcare works undertaken on their property including the planting of trees on some of the sloping country, rabbit control programs and the clearing of weeds along the lower creek boundary. They often share their knowledge, providing support to their neighbours to encourage good serrated tussock management in the community.
Photo 2: The crop planted to provide competition and ground cover against the serrated tussock